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928 resources(s)

Gender Hub sources and selects hundreds of resources across a range of gender themes to help you get in the know. Our editorial team carefully summarises them so that we present you the latest evidence in a timely way.

Improving women’s leadership and effectiveness in agricultural governance – effectiveness review

Publisher: Oxfam 2012

How can women’s leadership and participation in agricultural decision-making and governance be increased? To what extent do interventions that combine skills and capacity-building in improved production techniques with activities influencing local government and community leadership structures lead to greater involvement of women? This report from an Oxfam GB project operating in five States across two regions in Nigeria sets out to find out.

The project review team applied a quasi-experimental impact evaluation design in one of the two regions of the project to assess the effectiveness of the project in empowering women and increasing household wealth status. This involved administering surveys to women in communities targeted by the project as well as from neighbouring comparison communities. A range of outcomes were measured by a women’s empowerment index adapted from that developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).

The review found evidence that the project successfully affected several of the key outcomes, but not others. It worked to both empower women and increase household wealth, although such benefits were felt much more strongly by the women supported in Ogun state compared to elsewhere. The project appears to have brought about the greatest positive change in both women’s participation in community life and in their ability to influence affairs at the community level. However it struggled to discern positive impact associated with issues of a more personal or household level e.g. attitudes towards gender roles in the household. The review recommended that the project team

  • Critically review and assess how the project can more effectively increase women’s empowerment at the household level.
  • Review intervention implementation and uptake in both Ogun and Oyo to identify why there are reported differences in impact between the two states.
  • Explore the reasons for the significant improvement in asset wealth in Ogun…

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Women and rural development in Nigeria: some critical issues for policy consideration

Publisher: Social Sciences 2015
Author: Nseabasi Akpan

This paper, published in the journal Social Sciences, examines the broad idea of gender and development, with specific focus on some of the critical issues and challenges confronting the involvement of rural women in development activities in Nigeria. The paper addresses this issue through theoretical and empirical literature review, examining how the impacts of women in rural development in Nigeria have been discussed and situated in historical and political perspectives. 

Although women have served as critical agents of rural economic transformation, their role has been limited by the dictates of local patriarchy and religious beliefs, severely limiting women’s access to and use of infrastructure and services. However, their considerable and vital influence has been felt indirectly in their contribution to agricultural production, and directly in the domestic domain. A number of challenges affecting women’s active involvement in rural development are identified, including the prevalence of cultural and institutional barriers, as well as limited access to critical infrastructures in the rural areas. 

The positive impact of prior policy efforts are praised where successful outputs have been achieved, such as gender quotas for political positions; universal basic education, with a particular focus on girls enrollment and retention in schools; and social safety nets introduced in 2012 to alleviate the impact of the removal of oil subsidies. Future policy recommendations are then offered, focused on practical, legislative, legal and administrative actions that are particularly targeted at addressing the barriers identified in the…

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Infrastructure: a game-changer for women’s economic empowerment

Publisher: Infrastructure and cities for economic development (ICED) 2016
Author: Rachel Mohun

Produced by the Infrastructure and Cities for Economic Development Facility (ICED), this background paper lays out the case for infrastructure as a key tool for women’s economic empowerment (WEE). With over half of Africa’s economic growth between 1990 and 2005 attributed to improved infrastructure, the return on investment is clear. Yet millions across the developing world still lack access to clean water, energy, transport links, and energy, representing an opportunity for economic empowerment so long as marginalised groups are prioritised and included in infrastructure design and development.

Six key infrastructure areas are identified as enablers for WEE in both rural and urban settings: time savings; mobility; expanded market and employment opportunities; increased and more stable incomes; reduced exposure to risks, such as gender-based violence; and inclusion in planning, policy, and decision-making. To maximise effectiveness, it is vital that programmes challenge social norms, include and amplify women’s voices and digital inclusion, and invest in social services.

The paper takes these priorities, and uses them to highlight examples of good practice across three key entry points for WEE: addressing the care economy, particularly the importance of energy access, transport, and social infrastructure; expanding opportunities for women in informal work; and fostering female entrepreneurship and enhancing the productivity of women-owned enterprises. Finally, the paper closes with a list of specific recommendations of practical actions for donors, the private sector, national government, municipal government, and NGOs and civil…

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Women and agriculture: the untapped opportunity in the wave of transformation

Publisher: African Development Bank 2015
Author: Dr. B. Njobe

Women constitute a majority in Africa’s agricultural sector, and are estimated to produce between 60-80% of the continents food. Yet women remain an untapped opportunity due to their disproportionate lack of access to finance, services, and productive resources. Combined with rapid population growth and urbanisation contributing to increasing food demand, it becomes clear that a new, innovative approach for regional and national development based on gender-equality, sustainability, and good governance is sorely required.

This background paper brings to the fore the challenges women face in relation to access to productive resources, and discusses how such challenges ultimately negatively impact the continent’s productivity. It also looks at the opportunities open for effective action, and calls for all key stakeholders to commit to putting in place gender-responsive programmes by suggesting a number of potential interventions. 

The way forward is presented according to five key pillars: institutional transformation in law, regulations, agricultural policy, and gender-mainstreaming; access to productive resources, including finance, production facilities, research and development, and input materials; investment in infrastructure to enable trade and markets; investment in the development of high-value agricultural value chains; and increased access for women to technology and mechanised…

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Nigeria confronts a challenging financial inclusion gender gap: a case study of policy change to support women’s financial inclusion.

Publisher: Women's World Banking 2016

To complement the release of a discussion paper by the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) and Women’s World Banking, the organisations co-developed this case study report to examine the specific experience of Nigeria. While the country has seen promising approaches to gender-focused financial inclusion policies, efforts have faced a challenging environment that has seen the gender-gap in access to an account in a financial institution rise from 7.3% to 20.7% between 2010 and 2014.  

The case study examines gender differences in access to financial inclusion, noting that a fragmented market has yet to make serious inroads in the adoption of mobile-based money that holds such promise for under-served sectors such as women, and those without accounts with commercial banks. In 2014, the number of men with an account at a financial institution was 54.3%, compared to just 33.6% of women. 

Barriers and opportunities for women’s financial inclusion are then discussed, with major barriers identified being: lack of income; difficulty with physical access, be it distance or a “bricks and mortar” approach that does not work for women; lack of financial literacy; affordability; and eligibility. These barriers, together with a lack of trust and technological illiteracy, also apply as barriers to mobile banking.

Despite the slow uptake of mobile banking, it is still perceived as a potentially game-changing opportunity, so long as early adoption is encouraged to expand beyond young, urban males. In order to help with this effort, the case study presents recommendations including: increasing focus on the value proposition of women’s financial inclusion, better gender-disaggregated data collection and research, reforms to legal and regulatory frameworks to create space for innovation, the development of financial infrastructure and interoperability of payment platforms, and financial education and literacy…

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Rural-urban migration: a path for empowering women through entrepreneurial activities in West Africa

Publisher: Journal of Global Entrepreneurship Research 2015
Author: Julia Bello-Bravo
Increasing entrepreneurial opportunities for women can be an empowering process that contradicts and helps overcome established gender norms. This process can be aided by facilitating rural-urban migration for women, to access new job opportunities, networks, markets, and resources not available in rural areas. This paper presents a case study describing this process, and how migration has helped to empower women living in Ibadan, Nigeria. 
Based on a 2011 survey of 160 women, the paper captures the impacts migration has had on women in the city of Ibadan, discussing the opportunities that drew women there, and breaking down the data according to whether women were single, married, divorced, or widowed at the time of their migration. Next, the paper examines the opportunities and challenges that can either empower or disempower women migrants, and compares age, marital status, education, and type of employment to tease out any strong correlations that help determine how empowering, or otherwise, migration can be for different women.
The survey found that the majority of participants were self-employed, both before and after they migrated to Ibadan. Married women predominantly migrated because of their husband’s decision, and sought to empower themselves in entrepreneurial activities once settled. A common theme among all respondents was that entrepreneurship and business was a key facet  in improving their lives, both personally and professionally, together with family, and friendship interaction. However, little data exists examining the cultural differences in determining the success or failure of migrant women, something that requires further…

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Improving access to quality information and tools to empower women in rural Nigeria

Publisher: Empower Women 2015
Author: John Ede

In laying the context for the depth of challenges facing some women and families in Nigeria, this paper opens with a story of a mother and her children escaping imprisonment by extremists insisting that they submit to their ways and teachings to avoid persecution. Travelling alone and across inhospitable terrain for three weeks, with little food and through harsh weather, the family finally made it to an internally displaced people’s (IDP) community where they finally received the aid they desperately needed.

This is a story that has been repeated all over northern Nigeria in recent years, a problem exacerbated by a lack of services in rural areas that means help is often far away. Among a population of 172 million, it is estimated that around 40 million people have still not been reached with primary healthcare provision. Additionally, an estimated 5 million people have been displaced due to the Boko Haram insurgency, which severely hampered ambitions to provide accessible healthcare and security to all by the year 2000. Further broad context is provided in with regard to gender dimensions of agriculture, land, and water in the country, painting a picture of extreme and worsening social, economic, and political barriers to women’s empowerment.

The fundamental problems faced by nomads, migrant farmers, and rural people, that disproportionately impact women, are then identified by the author. These include poverty associated with poor housing, sanitation, inadequate nutrition, and polluted water; uneven distribution of health services and a lack of doctors, leading to high mortality and low life expectancy; high rates of illiteracy; inadequate education and transport infrastructure; traditional customs and beliefs that resist change; a lack of awareness of rights; pressure to push children into adult responsibilities early; and endemic prevalence of disease, especially malaria and cholera.

Finally, the paper discusses the question of how best to empower rural women, particularly in a time of great upheaval. The key, the author concludes, is education, and providing women with the opportunities and means of expanding their expertise and roles beyond traditional gender roles. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge and treasure the expertise already found within those roles.

(Note: to access this resource, users are required to either login using Facebook or Twitter, or by using an email…

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Political participation of rural women in decision making at the local government level in Zimbabwe

Publisher: International Invention Journal of Arts and Social Sciences 2016
Author: Jeffrey Kurebwa

The last few decades of the 20th century witnessed significant increases in women’s participation and representation in politics, in large part due to worldwide awareness campaigns, feminist movements, and better access to education, healthcare, and employment for women. Such is the shift in thinking, that the level of development of countries now includes reference to the level of women’s political participation and representation, and in this Zimbabwe is still lagging behind. This case study, published in the International Invention Journal of Arts and Social Sciences, examines the barriers and opportunities facing women in Zimbabwe, and argues that while participation is contingent on representation, it would be a mistake to see representation as an end in itself. Even the legally mandated quotas and mechanisms designed to enhance the representation of women in decision-making can easily be undermined, and the the numerical presence of women in representative bodies alone will not ensure their participation.

The paper explores numerous different arguments and perspectives (intrinsic, instrumentalist, essentialist, diversity, transformative, and symbolic) that show that the representation and participation of women in local governance is directly linked to the advancement of women, and is a basic requirement in the journey towards gender equality. Also discussed is the potential for gender equality to impact the culture of politics, as seen in the reduction of corruption in some municipalities in India and Rwanda, as well as the negative impacts that arise from the exclusion of women from decision-making bodies.

The author finds that the participation of women in local governance can and should be enhanced in three essential areas: as voters, policy-makers and as members of decision-making bodies. Furthermore, there is need for policies that involve empowering local authorities and communities to develop strategies that combine the empowerment of both communities, and rural women as individuals, something that will require local authorities to encourage the input of their constituents to identify areas that most need addressing. 

The paper concludes that in order to ensure that the decisions that affect women’s lives are taken seriously, women cannot remain passive bystanders in their own development, but should be proactively involved. Together, the various arguments make clear that gender is central to understanding conventional politics, and as the case of Zimbabwe shows, local government systems represent an excellent opportunity for women to begin breaking down barriers, and help encourage and normalise their participation in…

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An overview of health and occupational hazards of rural women in Nigeria

Publisher: Journal of Rural Social Sciences 2015
Author: T. G. Odeleye

Women all over the world have been acknowledged for their important roles in providing livelihoods for their families, winning an enviable reputation for their economic contribution through food production, processing and trading. Yet in Nigeria, few research studies have been documented on the health and occupational hazards of rural women. Women are often incapacitated by occupational hazards that interact with other causes of illness to produce a wide range of adverse outcomes that severely impairs rural productivity.

To help address this gap in knowledge, this literature review, published in the Journal of Rural Social Sciences, seeks to analyse the health problems and occupational hazards of rural women in Nigeria resulting from their income generating activities. It examines access to and use of health care services by rural women, identifies the causes of health problems and occupational health hazards, and examines the consequences of such health and occupational hazards in a bid to come up with suggestions to improve rural women’s health conditions and living standards. 

A review of primary data reveals a number of factors impacting rural women that leads to decreased productivity, including: reduced access to health care services; poverty; low levels of agricultural mechanisation, necessitating intensive and time-consuming labour; long work days; inadequate information; and a lack of extension services available to rural women. One example given is the processing of cassava into “gaari”; a labour-intensive process that exposes women to cyanide, heat and burns.

In order to overcome these deleterious factors, the authors suggest a focus on the dissemination of health related information as a panacea for dealing with rural occupational hazards. Information must be organised and presented in an accessible manner, so that it will motivate and encourage the rural women to use them. Additionally, extension workers must also be supported to educate women on necessary precautions during production activities, and labour-saving devices provided in a gender-sensitive way that is both convenient and suitable for women’s…

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Freedom to move: women’s experience of urban public transport in Bangladesh, Brazil and Nigeria, and how lost tax revenues can pay to improve it

Publisher: ActionAid International 2016
Author: H. Brejnholt (ed)

Public transport is the lifeblood of cities, used by millions as the most efficient way of moving people. However, half the population are marginalised from these transport systems as they often fail to accommodate the needs of women and girls, whose freedoms are curtailed by unsafe, inadequate, and inaccessible urban public transport (UPT). This report by ActionAid looks at the quality of UPT across three cities: Dhaka, in Bangladesh, Abuja in Nigeria, and Sao Paulo in Brazil. Bus provision in particular was studied, as the most readily comparable UPT in each city, and as an area in which the governments of all three cities are failing to provide adequate services to women and girls.

Following an executive summary, the report discusses in detail the importance and nature of gender responsive public services. Five key barriers to gender responsive transport are then discussed in detail: inappropriate design of UPT; unsafe UPT leading to sexual violence; unaffordable transport and multiple tickets; unreliable, inadequate and poor quality transport vehicles; and weak or absent legal and policy frameworks on the delivery of gender responsive UPT. These barriers are then described using the examples of stories of women themselves, from each of the three cities. One sad tale tells of Farima, who had to commute on barely affordable buses into Abuja every day for work. Farima was pregnant, and the crowded, jostling conditions caused her to begin bleeding, whereupon she went to the hospital and was placed on rest for four days. Farima was fired from her employment, and now helps raise her children on her husband’s income alone.

The report concludes that action is required in three core areas: availability, accessibility, and safety. With these goals in mind, a number of specific recommendations are made, including:

  • Ensuring public transport is publicly delivered: public control of UPT ensures that regulations, subsidies, schedules, routes, pricing, and design can be most centred on public needs in a gender-sensitive manner, and prevent marginalised groups being isolated from UPT. 
  • Ensuring public transport is participatory, accountable, and effectively managed: women must meaningfully participate in the design of cities and UPT, and in reviewing legislation and budgeting. Staff must agree to gender sensitive standards, with affirmative action programmes to include women among UPT staff.
  • Ensuring public transport is publically funded through progressive taxation: this will require governments to: review and revise tax treaties; grant tax incentives to ensure corporate transparency and accountability; stop undercutting each other through tax reductions for multinationals; and support the creation of an international body for tax cooperation at the United…

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